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Mother-daughter team graduates from Florida International University

Despite experience as teenage mom, woman refuses to give up on education

MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – Gigi Bolt was 16 when she gave birth to her baby girl. Education could have taken a back seat, but she persisted and graduated from high school. In college, professors allowed her to bring her daughter to class.

Bolt completed her bachelor's degree in 2012, despite her mother's cancer diagnosis. She started a career in politics, and worked a full-time job for Miami-Dade County government and on political campaigns. She also studied at Florida International University. Her mother died last year.

This semester, Bolt earned her master's degree in public administration with a certificate in human resource policy and management, while her 22-year-old daughter earned her bachelor's degree in political science, a minor in international relations and a certificate in Cuban studies.

"I found out I was pregnant at almost six months, so it was a huge shock at the time and I just got down," Bolt said. "I missed two weeks of school after I had her, and I wanted to make sure I graduated with my class. I never wanted to be a negative statistic. I didn’t want my daughter to be that either."

They are dedicating their accomplishment to Elsa, Bolt's mother. FIU President Mark Rosenberg honored the Bolts during the spring commencement ceremony Wednesday. 

"I always credit my village," Bolt said. "I have a big village and I am very grateful for that ... It’s really about balancing and finding a support system, finding someone that supports you, that mentors you. I have that in my family, I have that in professors here at FIU."